The great prophet of love, John Lennon, once had the “hope [that] someday you'll join us,/And the world will be as one.”
To me, today was definitely one of the days that epitomizes this beautiful dream. Before this day, I never would have imagined myself in the midst of a gathering of Stanford students, holding hands, and singing songs of love and peace in solidarity with my friends and my community. It seemed a little too hippyish in my imaginings, yet interestingly, this morning I found myself in this exact situation.
Having never contributed to this blog before or participated in a rally of any real significance before this today, I wonder what it is that inspires me to put my thoughts into words—how does a young Muslim American woman such as myself find herself swaying in a circle of peace, singing “Hiney ma tov,” arm in arm with her Christian and Jewish friend? How does a young man find the courage to play “Amazing Grace” on his bagpipe in front of a crowd of hundreds of people? How do Stanford college students, deprived of sleep and accosted by various obligations, make time to wake up at the crack of dawn (a little bit of poetic license here) and make their way to the Hillel center to stand united in their call for peace?
I believe that the reason was love. It was love of our neighbor and our friend and our love of justice and human rights that got us to the lawn this morning. It was love that helped us drown out the sounds of hate that the WBC yelled in the midst of this gathering, and it was love of religious freedom and respect for sexual freedom that gave us the courage to stand up to those ugly signs displayed by the WBC members. It was love that gave power to our voices as each one of us recited our pledge of “We Stand United,” each phrase gaining strength as more hearts and souls and voices joined in, forming a “brotherhood (and sisterhood) of love”.
As the rally came to a close, I looked out over the crowd, and could not help but feel proud of the grace we showed this morning. We may not have changed the bigoted attitudes of the WBC or others who carry such hate and discrimination in their hearts, but we stood up for ourselves and for our neighbors. Our songs of love continued to reverberate in my heart and allowed me to understand that the fight for peace and justice is just beginning. And from this beginning, each of us can continue to learn and stand up for what is right—because if we don't care, who will?